Don "Shakey" Ahrens

2017 - Individual

Where Don Ahrens got the nickname "Shakey" has always been a mystery. What hasn't been a mystery is the impact he had on the music business in the Iowa Great lakes area, particularly, Rock and Roll.

After living in the Los Angeles area Shakey moved back to his home town in the early sixties. With his wife Kay by his side, they began a career in the entertainment business in Arnolds Park that would span nearly four decades.

They started with The Hut. The Hut gave many local and regional bands their first stage to bring their music to the people. Soon after came The Parkview Lounge and subsequently the Peacock with its piano bar overlooking The Park. He also operated The Hi-Ho Club which was located directly on the lake and introduced live rock and roll to the amusement park. He also ran the Merry Go Inn located underneath the Roof Garden. Eventually he moved upstairs and began operating The Roof Garden. Throughout the late sixties and early seventies Shakey brought many local, regional and national acts to the stage of legendary Roof Garden.

In 1974 Don and Kay decided to retire from the music business. However Don soon became restless. In the summer of 1981 he partnered with his son and they reopened the then shuttered Roof Garden. Shortly after that they reopened The Macombo Club, which was located underneath The Roof Garden, bringing live music back to Arnolds Park. Together they operated the two clubs until the sale and closing of the Park in 1987.

Don was an instrumental influence in the “Save the Park” campaign in the early 90’s. Eventually he was asked to join the new management team of the amusement park. For the third time in his career he again took over the reins of the newly rebuilt Roof Garden bringing live Rock and Roll to another generation of music fans. Don loved music in general especially Rock and Roll. It gave him great joy to watch the crowds react to the music provided by so many talented acts during his career spanning four decades.

Today Don's legacy lives on through his son Rick. Rick is currently helping to manage the present Roof Garden. He is also actively involved in the planning of the building of the new Roof Garden, helping to insure that live music will continue to be brought to the next generation of music fans. Shakey rest in peace, knowing his legacy will continue.

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